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What Are Aero Bars? And How to Install Them on A Fixie?

Have you heard of aero bars? In this article, we will discuss aero bars and whether or not you should use them on your fixed gear bike.

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Are you looking for a way to increase your cycling efficiency and endurance? Then it might be time to switch things up and try aero bars on your bike!

These stylish bars help you stay upright and add a touch of class to any bike ride. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro rider, aero bars are a great way to keep up with the roadies. But what are aero bars? And how do you install aero bars on your bike?

Aero bars are handlebar extensions that enable an aerodynamic stance by lowering your upper body and aligning your arms with your torso. Aero bars also have handgrips and armrests, making cycling easier on your wrists and hands.

Image of road cyclist wearing green using aero bars. Source: adobe stock
Image of road cyclist wearing green using aero bars. Source: Adobe Stock

But there’s a lot more to it than that, so in this post, you will learn about aero-bars and how to install them correctly on your fixie.

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Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 19, 2022, to include additional information about aero bars.

Before learning how to install these bars, let’s first understand what aero-bars are.

What are aero-bars?

Aero bars, also known as “clip-on bars,” “triathlon bars,” or “tri-bars,” are handlebar extensions that attach near to the handlebar’s center and cantilever out over the front wheel. They enable you to adopt a more aerodynamic stance by lowering your upper body and aligning your arms with your torso. These bars are often found on triathlon bikes.

Compared to regular handlebars, aero bars have both handgrips and armrests, putting less stress on your wrists and hands.

The best kinds of clip-on aero* bars allow for extensive height adjustment and separation of the bars and armrests, enabling you to strike the optimal mix of aerodynamic placement and comfort. On a road bike, aero bars look like a horizontal fork mounted to the top of drop bars. 

Are there different types of aero bars?

Depending on your preferences, there are many options available on the market.

Elite triathletes compete in short-distance events with short aero bars (no longer than the handlebar) (draft legal). Amateurs typically aren’t permitted to use them in races. The longer aero bars are used for races without drafting.

Aero bars can come in a single piece or two separate bars that are fixed together. It will be easier to install, but you won’t have as many options for customization. The two distinct bars are my favorites.

Some aero bars have a wider range of adjustments than others. Verify whether the armrest can be moved.

Image of a man on a bicycle using aero bars. Source: sebastian graser, unsplash
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An image of a man on a bicycle using aero bars. Source: Sebastian Graser, Unsplash

How much do aero bars cost?

Aero bars are relatively low compared to a set of aero wheels, which cost well over $1,000. There are many choices, ranging from about $30 to $200. Of course, you will pay a higher price if you want the lightest carbon version, as with every other bike component.

What to consider when buying aero bars

Things to consider when finding the right type of aero bar are:

1. Bar Extension: One of the primary differentiating features in aero bars is the extension at the very end, where you’d place your arms. Some athletes feel faster with shorter and less angled extensions, while Ironman and ultra-endurance athletes may prefer longer extensions.

2. Risers: Almost all aero bars allow you to use risers to elevate the arm pads.

3. Arm Pad Position: The arm pads’ width, narrowness, and angle may also dictate your choice in aero bars. Comfort is a priority here.

4. Brake Levers & Gear Shifters: The braking and shifting systems are an added consideration for athletes using full aero handlebars.

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5. Total Weight: Most aero bars are made of lightweight carbon fiber and/or aluminum material, but the added componentry (i.e., ribs) can also add weight.

6. Aesthetics: Although it’s always advised to choose fit and function over aesthetics, there is, of course, the actual look of the aero bars that undoubtedly plays a role. 

When should aero-bars be used?

Aero bars can improve your speed and stamina while exercising. If you’re serious about speed or time trials, adding tri-bike aero bars to your arsenal can make a huge difference.

Begin your training program using aero-bars to get started and develop your endurance. Then, if you’re having trouble finishing your workout, utilize aero-bars to speed things up and push yourself harder. In addition, aero-bars can be used as an analgesic to alleviate the discomfort associated with your workout if you’re feeling sore. Finally, add aero-bars to your training plan to improve speed, balance, and coordination. This will help you improve your performance.

Can I install aero bars on a fixed-gear bike?

Yes. Fixed gear bikes can use aero bars. Nothing stops you from slapping on a sweet set of these bars on your fixie. They are not commonly seen on commuting fixed gear and single-speed bikes, but there is certainly nothing wrong with having them.

As a matter of fact, this is very common in the track bike scene. Track bikes are all about speed and aerodynamics, so these bars are ideal.

Some aero bars have a quick-release feature that lets you attach and remove them without any tools.

If you are in the market for a set of aero bars, check out some of these options.

How do I install aero bars on my bike?

Clip-on bars are one of the most common methods of installing aero bars on your bike. The term “clip-on” alludes to the fact that they are secured to the handlebar with bolts and can be easily removed with the appropriate tools.

Clip-on bars are typically fitted just once and are not removed regularly. However, some bars offer a quick release that may be swiftly mounted and removed without the need for tools.

Follow the steps below to install clip-on aero bars.

  1. Set up the handlebars.

    Begin by preparing the handlebars. If required, trim and unroll the bar tape to expose the bare metal and liberate the wires so they do not become clamped. Next, clean the bars thoroughly to ensure no oil or debris gets trapped behind them.

  2. Grease the bars.

    Grease the tri-bar bolts to ensure they are installed easily. Bring the clamp to the handlebar and check that it is properly positioned. Next, insert the lubricated bolts, starting with a finger-tight fit to prevent cross-threading.

  3. Secure the bolts.

    After inserting the Allen bolts, gently tighten them by alternating a few twists on each to ensure that the clamp pulls up equally, and then softly tighten them.

  4. Adjust the elbow pads.

    Now, adjust the elbow pads to customize the width and reach of the bars. The width should be as thin as possible while still supporting the elbow.

  5. Connect to the second bar.

    Attach the second bar in the same manner as the first, precisely at the same distance from the stem, to ensure consistent spacing between the bars. To guarantee this, measure the distance between the stem and the clamps.

  6. Make final adjustments.

    View the bars from the side. Adjust them, so they are both parallel to the ground, pointing slightly upward, and consistent. Once satisfied with the setting, tighten the clamps’ bolts. To complete, trim and fasten the bar tape.

    You might also want to make a small change to your saddle to make up for your body weight being more forward than usual.

Check out this video from the Global Triathlon Network that shows how to install clip-on aero bars on your bike.

A video called How To Fit Clip-On Aero Bars from the Global Triathlon Network YouTube Channel

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding the installation and use of aero bars.

Are aero bars comfortable?

Aero bars increase speed and comfort, especially when traveling long distances. The aero bars add an entirely new position to the mix if you need to change it up (hands on the hoods or the drops, for example). You may feel more at ease in the aero position. Naturally, it takes some time to get used to this new position.

What are aero bars used for?

They enable you to lower your upper body and align your arms with your torso to assume a more aerodynamic position, as their name implies. Aero bars are different from other handlebar positions because they have both hand grips and armrests

Do aero bars make a difference?

Yes, aero-bars can be an effective tool for improving overall cycling efficiency. Some people believe they make a significant difference in performance and muscle fatigue.

Do you put tape on the aero bars?

Some people prefer to tape their aero bars to prevent them from moving during a ride and potentially causing injury. Others feel the tape can get in the way and be a nuisance when riding. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to use tape on your aero bars.

Conclusion

If you are looking for even more speed, aero bars might just be the accessories that can take your cycling game to the next level.

This article covered what aero bars are, whether or not you can use them on a fixie, and how to install them on your bike. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Aero bars are handlebar attachments used to improve aerodynamics.
  • Fixed gear and single-speed bikes can use aero bars, though it’s uncommon, especially for commuters.
  • They are common in velodrome track bike racing.
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So, have you ever tried riding with aero bars? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Helpful Resources

Image of road cyclist wearing green using aero bars. Pinterest
Image of road cyclist wearing green using aero bars. Pinterest
Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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